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UDHR poster rights for all

Introductory material on these pages draws on guidance sheets prepared by the Attorney-General's Department in consultation with the Commission. The assistance of the Department is gratefully acknowledged.

Please let us know of any additions, updates or corrections to these pages you would like to suggest.

Civil and political rights | Economic, social and cultural rights | Rights of indigenous people | Women's rights | Children's rights | Disability rights | Rights of older persons | Sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex

Civil and political rights

Economic, social and cultural rights

The legislation defining human rights for the purposes of Commission functions is complicated.

In particular the Commission currently only has direct jurisdiction regarding the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in relation to the work of

  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, and
  • the National Children's Commissioner. 

This is despite human rights being repeatedly referred to as "universal and indivisible" (in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, in the ICCPR and ICESCR,  and in subsequent instruments.  

However, the Commission also has jurisdiction regarding a range of economic, social and cultural  rights

  • under each of the discrimination Acts and
  • in relation to rights of persons with disabilities. 

Information on economic, social and cultural rights is included here accordingly. Having regard to the principles of universaility and indivisibility, the Commission supports protection of the full range of human rights for all people in Australia.

Rights of indigenous people

Rights of indigenous peoples are addressed in the main human rights treaties including through the rights to self determination and through obligations to prevent racial discrimination. 

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the functions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner within the Commission address in more detail a wide range of human rights issues including civil, political, economic social, and cultural rights issues.

More detailed information is available in the Social Justice section of this site.

Women's rights

As indicated above, in addition to the general requirements of non-discrimination in Article 2 of each of the ICCPR and ICESCR, Article 3 of both Covenants requires parties to ensure and promote equal enjoyment of rights for women. These rights and requirements are set in more detail in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimnation Against Women.

More detailed information on the Commission's work is available  in the Sex Discrimination section of this site.

Children's rights 

The ICCPR recognises children's rights, although only relatively briefly. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child addresses in more detail a wide range of human rights including civil, political, economic social, and cultural rights.

More detailed information is available in the Childrens Rights section of this site.

Rights of people with a disability 

The Human Rights Covenants cover people with disability (by implication, through their reference to rights for "all individuals", and without discrimination of "any kind", including on the basis of "other status").

  • The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has included the rights of persons with disability  among its General Comments. The Committee on Human Rights has not done so at this point.
  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first of the main human rights treaties to deal expressly with  rights of people with a disability

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities addresses in detail a wide range of rights including civil, political, economic social, and cultural rights. It

  • confirms that these rights apply to people with disability;
  • provides more detail on what some rights mean in the context of disability (for example regarding acessibility and independent living)
  • sets out in more detail than other human rights instruments what obligations governments have.

More detailed information is available in the Disability Rights section of this site.

Rights of older persons 

The existing main human rights treaties apply to older people as a matter of law (since they recognise rights for "all" individuals and without "any" discrimination) although they do not address ageing expressly or in detail. However:

  • The United Nations has adopted a range of non-binding instruments on the rights of older persons including the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.
  • The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has included the rights of older persons among its General Comments. The Committee on Human Rights has not done so at this point. 
  • Development of a specific Convention on the rights of older persons is currently being considered.

Further information in this area is available in the Age Discrimination section of this site.

Human rights and sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex issues

The existing human rights treaties apply to all people, and include human rights issues regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex people.

Issues regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex people involve a wide range of rights.

Further information in this area is available in the Sexuality, Sex and Gender Identity section of this site.